The sad thing about leftovers is that most of the time they end up in the trash- a waste of food, and the money you spent on it. Not a great feeling when you want to make every penny count. But that doesn’t have to happen anymore! Check out these smart hacks for giving leftovers new life and you might start planning for them to begin with!
1. Instant second meal:
I’ll admit that I sometimes cook more than I need for dinner so that I can pack up the extra for lunch the next day. I actually find that there are many foods that taste better the second time, since the flavors have more time to combine and intensify.
I should be more realistic when I’m in the produce aisle and accept that I most likely won’t use all the vegetables like I think I will when I buy them. I can still save them, though, by roasting them. In fact, almost any veggie gets even more delicious when tossed with a little olive oil, salt, pepper, and seasoning of your choice, then baked at 400° for about 30 minutes.
3. Add to a salad:
The beauty of a salad is that it can be whatever you want it to be. Just toss in your leftovers for a special edition salad. or use the leftover meat, chicken, pasta, or rice as the base for it’s own salad.
4. Cooking liquid:
Save the water you use to cook or steam vegetables. Freeze it in 1-cup portions and add to soups or when cooking rice for added flavor and nutrition.
5. Tea bags:
It really is a waste to toss a tea bag after making just one- or even two- cups of tea, so don’t. Read this post and get some great ideas for reusing a tea bag.
This one’s easy: Leftover bread makes the best french toast! You could also make your own breadcrumbs by whirring the bread in your food processor.
7. Hot dog and hamburger buns:
Is it just me, or do hot dog and hamburger buns really multiply on their own? Well, now that’s a good thing because it means you get to make your own croutons! Cut them up into cubes, toss with a little olive oil, salt, and seasonings of your choice, then bake at 350° for about 30 minutes.
First of all, you can freeze leftover rice to use another time. I like to put single serving sizes in sandwich zip bags and defrost in the microwave. But you can always use it right away to make fried rice or rice pudding.
9. Tomato paste:
Almost every recipe I’ve ever made needs only one tablespoon of tomato paste- so what do you do with the rest of the can? Measure out single tablespoons and freeze them in ice cube trays. When frozen, pop them out and store in a zip top bag and you’ll always have a tablespoon of tomato paste ready to go! This hack also works for wine and pretty much any sauce.
10. Cooked or roasted vegetables:
You can always toss them into a salad or an omelet, or puree to make a creamy soup.
Again, leftover chicken is a fabulous addition to a green salad- just chop it up and toss in. Or mix it with some mayo, mustard, and pickles for a different take on chicken salad.
If- for some crazy reason- there should be leftover cake, you can make delicious, no-bake rum balls. Here’s a delicious and easy recipe that looks and tastes really impressive.